I remember many (many) years ago I was at Notting Hill Carnival. I was there with my mum and my two sisters. At one point we were lost somewhere down Ladbroke Grove between the floats, the people dancing and smell of food. I was standing there, overwhelmed by the costumes and the colors when my eldest sister tugged my arm to get my attention. We turned and in the distance M-Beat were performing live drum ‘n’ bass. My sister, six years my senior, wondered off to go and experience the sounds up-close, me being very young had to stay back with my mum watching the floats go by as she went to rave in the mid-afternoon sunshine.
Rudimental, hailing from East London, reminded me of that moment last night as their high tempo show had The Regency Ballroom bouncing from wall to wall.
Friday night, San Francisco, was the last stop on Rudimental’s current US Tour supporting the release of, We The Generation, their sophomore album. Number one in the UK, We The Generation feels like a collection of anthems about the realities of life, young love and youthful uncertainty.
By the end of the first few chords of “Home” the main room in the Regency went from casually busy to heaving. By the time “Right Here” began to ring out the temperature had risen, to boiling point and I am not sure it ever turned back down. The atmosphere was euphoric, the quintessentially British fusion of electronic sounds with pop sensibilities crafting its way through the room. They were at their best when singing the anthems, old and new. Free was given more guitar, more edginess, more power to make each word hit home for forcefully. “Not Giving In” similarly was fuller and bullishly rounded out. The newer anthems in “Bloodstream” and “Lay It On Me” also hit home with aplomb. Rudimental’s passionate love of their music was on full display. I had previously seen Rudimental perform a few years back at London’s Lovebox festival, and this was a different experience, the walls creating more of an intense atmosphere to the open air space of a festival.
The highlight of the evening was during another of the newer anthems, “Love Ain’t Just A Word,” when they flipped in to Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jamrock.” The place exploded as Rudimental teased switching Jamrock for London or San Fran at will. Then the live renditions of old skool jungle classics, “Original Nuttah” and “The Burial;” it was like I was transported back to the streets of Notting Hill to witness the sounds my sister told me of. While the songs did not seem too familiar for many in the crowd the energy was not lost and the floor bubbled and partied along picking up the words as they went.
Indeed, Rudimental was only part of what made the evening vibrant, and energetic. Everything they gave out, the crowd seemed to give back ten-fold. I often got lost on the balcony watching people party away and release any tension they held inside. Lovers kissing, groups of friends embracing and jumping around as if it was their last night together. There is something life-affirming to Rudimental’s music; they way it can draw 1,000 strangers together to sing in an imperfect scream based harmony. Young, old, hipster, preppy were all in attendance on Friday night.
I guess in many ways that is what they are trying to show with We The Generation. This is music which brings people together. It was impossible not to get swept away in the euphoria on Friday night. Rudimental at their best is a rush of collaborative energy, one created to savor and enjoy the moment.